The Danger Room (the X-Men’s highly sophisticated training simulation room)
Program: Magneto- Hoover Dam
Kurt Wagner (codename: Nightcrawler) had Hank help him install the program as soon as they returned from the site.
He remembered zipping all over the area, dodging Magneto’s home-made projected missiles at every turn, as Kurt tried to get closer and closer to Lensherr to stop his madness. There was an evil, sadistic look in Magneto’s eyes that had never been there before and it frightened Kurt although he told no one that.
He made sure Hank programmed Magneto’s simulated aggression level way up. The Danger Room already had numerous Magneto simulators but this was a different animal. Kurt was teleporting (his mutant ability) all over, avoiding rocks from the near earthquake the mutant Avalanche caused. He was dodging searing flames shot out of gauntlets from Avalanche’s frequent partner, Pyro, who can manipulate flame sources into anything he can imagine. He landed feet first on the Aussie’s shoulders, then gripped Pyro’s muscles with his feet, stronger appendages than any human, more ape-like, and flipped him completely in air, with Pyro crashing hard into the remains of a concrete barrier. The ground under Kurt rose up but he zipped out of there, teleporting away, closing the distance between himself and their self-righteous foe Avalanche was tearing up a road on both sides now, and trying to trip up Kurt; it was taking all of his dexterity to not get trapped under the rock. Kurt landed directly in front of Avalanche ready for his strike but the earth-controlling mutant fell down, as if he just went to sleep.
Betsy Braddock (codename: Psylocke) was a mutant with strong telepathic powers; she was also a highly trained ninja and an absolutely gorgeous woman who loved wearing almost nothing. She was a sight to behold on the battlefield. Kurt was angry at her, as she loved showing off her body; today in training wearing an old ripped sports bra and black stretch underwear.
“You know Bets (he stated while dodging bulging cracks of cement thrust towards him) you don’t have to stay. We have plenty of help.”
“It’s perfectly fine, Kurt, (saying as she hurdled over a burning pile of wreckage to get closer to Magneto). I need a good workout. And…..I miss this place.”
“Yeah, me to,” unsheathing his sword from his side, “It’s been a while since I have been here, but I feel like I dropped into a time warp. Everything is the same.”
Kurt threw his blade at Magneto, who stopped it in front of himself. But, Kurt teleported instantaneously in front of him, kicking Lensherr in the face, then teleporting back to the sword, and burying it deep in the powerful mutant’s stomach. The simulation ended, all the holograms disappeared. Kurt and Betsy were standing alone in a gigantic empty room, looking at each other. Betsy wiped sweat from her forehead.
“There’s nothing different you or any of us could have done. Some things are….meant to happen.”
Kurt didn’t respond. He spoke out loud instead, directly past Betsy.
“Computer, run Magneto sim 01-5267 again.”
The scene of carnage reappeared just as it was and Kurt readied himself for battle.
****Hallway of Main Floor of Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters****
Hank McCoy (codename: Beast) and Bobby Drake (codename: Iceman) stand in the hall outside the largest meeting room in the school. Hank checks his wristwatch.
“It would seem we’re early.”
“That’s something I’m not used to.”
“Well, there’s nothing wrong with being punctual. The early bird gets the worm, Robert….”
“Does that have anything to do with tequila?”
Hank shook his head and was about to answer when Betsy emerged from the elevator, coming from the sub-basement. She was sweating from head to toe and barely clothed.
“Hi guys. Do I Have time for a shower before the meeting?”
They were both speechless.
“hmmmmmmm…” Bobby noticed something was dripping from his lips. Betsy reached up and wiped it away and licked her fingers clean.
“I’ll take that as a yes.”
She started walking away as Scott Summers (codename: Cyclops), the perennial field leader of the X-Men, bumped into her. He gripped her shoulders and apologized.
“Hi Scott. How are you doing?”
“I’m holding. This never gets easy. ”
“Well, if you need to talk, you know where my room is.”
“Yeah, thank you. Are you joining us in the meeting?”
“Yeah, be back in just a few.”
Scott continued down the hall and met up with Hank and Bobby who were still ogling their attractive teammate.
“Scott, I know you’re married, but you’re not dead. You barely looked….Oh, I didn’t just say that did I?”
Hank was nodding slowly.
“Its’ fine, Bobby. Just think before you speak. You have to show you’re mature now if you’re going to be an instructor.”
“It’s just Phys Ed, Scott. Not like I’m teaching Art History or something.”
Scott ignored the comment and proceeded into the large board room. Hank and Bobby followed. Jean arrived moments later, and then Betsy, fully dressed now. Scott cleared his voice then turned on a projection screen in the front of the room. They saw Charles Xavier (codename: Professor X) , founder of the Gifted School for Youngsters and mentor to the X-Men. He was in his golden hover chair next to a small couch and some medical equipment.
The door burst open and everyone turned their head to see a young blonde named Paige Guthrie (codename: Husk) enter with flushed cheeks. She quickly took a seat.
“Excuse me Professor.”
“That’s quite alright, Paige. Thank you all for joining me. This is a very rough time for all of us and I’m sorry I can’t be there in person for this meeting and the memorial service, but I am there in spirit, as I feel Alex is too.” He took a deep breath.
“Scott, I’ve sent mental messages out to all our brethren to join us, if they wished, today. Your brother was well-respected among us and will be dearly missed. What has happened is indeed a tragedy, but Erik is also one of us and I cannot turn my back on him now. We are finding some unusual spikes in his mental activity, yet he remains in a vegetative state as of now. Hank, if you will, bring the Blackbird down to Muir Island tonight. I could use your assistance with something.”
“Of course, Professor.”
“Now, onto today’s matter: our new school year begins next week. I know it seems like bad timing but I think it’s the perfect time. The world has just witnessed mutants killing mutants and they think we have turned on ourselves. Now, more than ever, is the time to educate not only homo sapiens, but all races. Our new class will be confused and maybe frightened, so we need to be pillars of strength and role models for all who need us. As far as classes go, Scott, you will maintain your Qualities of the Individual and Leadership courses. Jean, Psychology and Basic Human and Mutant Anatomy. Hank, Chemistry and Applied Sciences. Bobby, this will be your first year teaching, you have Physical Education and Teamwork. Betsy, thank you for filling in on such short notice for our Combat Techniques class.
“You’re welcome sir. It’s nice to be back.”
“Seems our original instructor, Logan, is on….a sabbatical.”
“There’s a shocker,” said Bobby.
“We will need someone to fill in for Ororo as instructor of World Studies. Scott, perhaps Peter would be willing?”
“I’ll see sir. He’s running an Art program this year too.”
“Ah, that’s right. I’ll look around for a suitable replacement. Well, that brings me to our new class that young Ms. Guthrie is in charge of.”
All the X-Men turned in their seats to Paige. She blushed ,and waved nervously. All those stoic faces, these veterans who have been through so much in their lifetimes. She was more than a little overwhelmed.
“She comes to us from Sean and Emma’s school. She will teach “Getting to Know Yourself,” a new course, very simply, that deals with being young and being a mutant and everything that comes with it. Paige has displayed a lot of maturity and poise since she’s been under the wings of our schools. I want each of you to make her feel comfortable. Except you, Bobby. Paige , keep your eyes on him!”
Bobby gave a “Who me?” look and waved, trying to be cute. Paige gave him a polite smile.
“I hope we can make this year a good one. Let’s reassure our students that what has happened last week will not happen again. There are extra security forces being taken to ensure the safety of our students. Be well, my X-Men. I am praying for our continued safety. Henry, I’ll see you in a bit.” The feed cut out.
Scott stood up at the center of the room and said “Paige, let me be the first to welcome you to the staff. If you need anything, let us know!”
“Thank you, It’s an honor to be here, I really mean that. And I’m sorry about your brother.”
“Thank you. We will have a memorial at 5, if you’d like to come.”
“Of course. Could someone show me to my room?”
Scott looked around and the room as Bobby’s hand shut up like a rocket.
Inside the X-Mansion, someone was peering out of their window as the rain started falling softly. Gloomy skies sailed in like returning ships to port and Lorna Dane watched as chairs were set out for the service. How could he be gone? she wondered. He was only here days ago, flesh and blood. Now, nothing. She felt like she had less flesh herself now, less blood, less to give to the world. She knows Alex was a hero and he did what heroes do. They both always knew the risks involved. But, to happen like this, fighting her father. She would never forgive him, the one they all called Magneto. She’d always tried to leave some love in her heart for him, leave that option open but it was erased now. She would never give him another chance. She hoped Xavier couldn’t fix him; that he would remain a lifeless body.
She felt a friendly hand on her shoulder.
“The rain is so soothing in its light form, don’ you agree?”
“Time is moving at a standstill around here. I need coffee to stay awake. Would you like some?”
“No, thanks, Hank. I think I’ll watch from in here.”
“Alex….cared for you, deeply. In battle, sometimes, men say strange things. He vowed to marry you, Lorna. At least I think he did. I was trying to perform a dicossectomy to a Brood hatchling, while the Queen had sprung a trap on us.”
“Thanks. I’m okay. really, thanks.”
“You only need to keep him alive in there (Hank pointed to Lorna’s heart) for him to be real.”
Lorna broke down, and tears erupted again. She engulfed Hank in an embrace and sobbed uncontrollably into his thick, blue fur. He held her firmly and hoped she was feeling comforted.
“Let it all out, child. Besides I’m absorbent.”
Hank held her throughout the ceremony. He watched through the window as friends, teammates and mutants he barely knew gathered in the South Garden for the service. Two young girls whose mutant gift is to replicate any sound they’ve heard hummed a beautiful tune and an old friend, Dazzler, a pop singer, sang “Amazing Grace.” Lorna wept even more.